What The Final 12 Months Of Chester Bennington's Life Was Like

Chester Bennington was best known for being the lead singer of the multiplatinum-selling, sonically diverse rock band Linkin Park. In 2000, the band made its roaring burst into the mainstream with their debut album Hybrid Theory, one of the highest-selling albums of all time, with 32 million copies sold as of 2019, per Kerrang. Linkin Park had sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and won two Grammy Awards by 2017, as reported by the BBC.

Bennington could belt out loud, razor-like notes that could turn into growls or sing in a soft, melodic voice, a dynamic which helped balance out the band's early rap-rock sound. The singer also had another side, one that stemmed from darkness, which he would frequently sing about in his music. According to Rolling Stone, some of Bennington's friends felt "they overlooked signs his dark side [...] had been creeping back into his life."

Bennington's abusive childhood led him to experiment with drugs and alcohol at a young age, and he would struggle with depression, drug abuse, and alcoholism for the rest of his life. During the singer's last 12 months, his struggles would get worse, resulting in deepening depression, relapses, multiple suicide attempts, and, finally, his death. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Chester Bennington angered metal fans by saying Linkin Park "kept metal alive"

At the start of the millennium, rap-rock band Linkin Park dominated radio station airwaves, had music videos played relentlessly on MTV, and, inadvertently, grew even larger via emerging file-sharing services such as Napster. Their reach became global, and their musical impact was arguably just as significant, if not more so, than other nu metal bands of the time. For as much praise as they received, the band would also face backlash from metal purists and a handful of critics for certain aspects of their sound. Fast-forward more than a decade later, and in an interview with Metal Hammer in July 2016 (via Loudwire), Bennington tried to defend Linkin Park's sound and impact on the music industry from metal fans who questioned the integrity of their style and claimed they were nothing more than a boy band with guitars.

Bennington didn't take the criticism lightly, saying: "I think that's really funny — just those words, 'the integrity of metal.' In my opinion we actually kept metal alive." The singer's statement, predictably, angered metal fans. As reported by Blabbermouth, Bennington's Linkin Park bandmate, Mike Shinoda, tried to clear up what Bennington meant, saying: "He basically said that pop music was ruling the world, and we made a case for (commercially) viable heavy music." The following month, Rolling Stone reports the singer suffered a three-day relapse and blacked out from drinking alcohol. Thankfully, Bennington recovered and kept hard at work on Linkin Park's next album.

Chester Bennington updated fans on Linkin Park's new album

In September 2016, Musicfeeds reports, after an absence in the media, Bennington resurfaced and updated fans on the progress of Linkin Park's forthcoming album, One More Light. While sitting alone in the dimly lit room of a recording studio, even though the singer was noticeably tired, he was able to speak with great enthusiasm, telling fans what they could expect from the band's seventh studio album. "I've been working really hard on some vocals for the last couple of months," Bennington said. "And we've done some really great stuff in here. The songs are amazing. I'm really proud of what we've accomplished in the studio so far. We've got a lot of great material that I hope challenges our fanbase as well as inspires them as much as it has us. And so, I'm really looking forward to you guys hearing the stuff. It's, like, super, super exciting."

The video shows the singer with headphones on in a recording booth preparing himself for another take and, in another clip, gazing into a computer screen layered with recorded tracks.

Chester Bennington attempted suicide nine months before his death

In December 2017, TMZ reported that the Linkin Park singer had tried to commit suicide in November 2016, only nine months before his final, successful attempt. Luckily, Bennington had a change of heart and decided not to go through with it. Information about the suicide attempt was originally redacted from the autopsy report due to Bennington's widow, Talinda, wanting to keep the details of the event private. Talinda's lawyer, Ed McPherson, was able to omit the information due to "marital privilege," which was debated as a suitable reason for redaction until ultimately being agreed upon by the coroner's lawyer.

The warning signs would become more prevalent over time: Two of the most prominent would be Bennington's struggles with depression and his battles with alcoholism. With every documented attempt, the singer would consume large amounts of alcohol while depressed. In an interview with 102.7 KIIS-FM, Bennington mentioned that keeping busy and spending time with loved ones would be one of his saving graces, saying: "If I'm not actively like getting out of myself and being with other people, like, being a dad, being a husband, being a bandmate, being a friend, helping someone out, like ... If I'm out of myself, then I'm great. If I'm inside all the time, then I'm horrible, I'm a mess."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Chester Bennington toured with Kings of Chaos

In December 2016, Bennington joined his friends from other popular rock bands by playing shows on the East Coast of the US, starting in New Jersey and ending in New York, after a series of warmup shows in Las Vegas. Blabbermouth reported that members from the bands Guns N' Roses, Cheap Trick, ZZ Top, and Stone Temple Pilots would form the all-star lineup with the name "Kings of Chaos." The band was a source of happiness for Bennington, bringing him back to the days of when he played music for fun. "Being in Kings of Chaos brings me back to my early days in bands when I was doing it for fun. We don't have any originals," Bennington said.

Matt Sorum, the drummer of Guns N' Roses and founder of the band, said, "Kings of Chaos always delivers a badass lineup, and this tour will not disappoint. Where can you hear some of the most iconic songs in rock history packed into one show, performed by the actual artists who created them? Every night is a celebration of rock and roll."

Chester Bennington reunited with Grey Daze

It wouldn't be long until Bennington would work with another band that brought him back to his early love of music. In February 2017, Bennington reunited with his bandmates from Grey Daze, a grunge band from Arizona he sang for before becoming a part of Linkin Park. According to Alternative Press, Bennington made the announcement on Instagram and explained how he wanted to revisit and re-record tracks from their first two albums, Wake Me and no sun today, using better technology and more funding.

The remaining members of the band would push ahead with the new album after Bennington passed. They released an open letter which stated: "We all wanted to fulfill Chester's dream of people hearing Grey Daze music as he always envisioned it. The fact that we got to retrack and rewrite the music around his vocals was an amazing experience. This is what our good friend wanted. He wanted the music to feel fresh and relevant, so people who knew his music but not his original band, could relate to it."

Chris Cornell's death really affected Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington was good friends with Chris Cornell, the vocalist of the grunge band Soundgarden. In May 2017, Cornell committed suicide. According to Rolling Stone, two months before Bennington's own death, he paid tribute to Cornell and sang at his memorial service. There were a couple very strange connections between both singers' deaths: Both Bennington and Cornell committed suicide by the same method, and Bennington took his own life on what would have been Cornell's 53rd birthday.

In an interview with Radio.com (via Variety), Bennington's Linkin Park bandmate, Mike Shinoda, witnessed the impact Cornell's death had on the singer. "When we were doing a sound check Chester couldn't even make it through the song, he was getting halfway through and getting choked up," Shinoda said. "And even when we did play the whole song, and it was live on TV, or taped for film for TV, he kind of just stopped like towards the end like he missed the last couple lines, just couldn't finish the song."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Linkin Park put out their last album with Chester Bennington

In May 2017, Linkin Park released One More Light, their last album with Bennington. The band's follow-up album to 2014's The Hunting Party was a huge departure in terms of its genre. According to Kerrang, The Hunting Party featured contributions from rock artists such as Helmet's Page Hamilton, System Of A Down's Daron Malakian and Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello. One More Light wasn't as concerned with genre and featured a lineup of collaborators with a pop music background: Justin Parker, Eg White, Jon Green, Ross Golan, as well as Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, who'd worked with Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, and Gwen Stefani.

The lyrical content would give an ominous glimpse into Bennington's struggles with depression. Blabbermouth reports that Bennington's lyrics to the song "Heavy" were eerily similar to what he'd been expressing in interviews during the last year of his life, such as: "I don't like my mind right now / Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary / Wish that I could slow things down." The chorus featured the lyrics: "If I just let go, I'd be set free." Bennington addressed the lyrics in an interview with 102.7 KIIS-FM: "I have a hard time with life... sometimes. [...] Even when it's good, I just am uncomfortable all the time... The opening line, 'I don't like my mind right now' — like, that is me 24 hours a day. And if I get stuck in here, like, I just find life really hard. It doesn't have to be."

Negative reviews of One More Light really hurt Chester Bennington

One More Light received mixed reactions from fans and critics. As Kerrang put it, "Some relished the chance to dish out pithy takedowns, suggesting the album 'makes Ed Sheeran sound like Extreme Noise Terror.' Others accused the band of opportunism, suggesting they were '[chasing] the trend of pop-EDM.'"

Bennington's friend Sean Dowdell, the drummer of Grey Daze, told Blabbermouth that the singer didn't take the reviews well: "I'm gonna say a few things here. It may not be very popular, but it's the truth. And not that I wanna bring the Linkin Park guys into the conversation, but I think they would agree with this. When they did the 'One More Light' album, it wasn't received the way they thought it was gonna be received, or at least the way Chester thought it was gonna be received, and he got a lot of negativity from fans, and it really bothered him. And we talked about that a lot. He would just be so bummed out and he would blast people on Twitter, and he would get upset. And I would tell him: 'Dude, don't let these people bring you down. It's not worth it. The music is good, man. Don't worry about this kind of crap.'"

In an interview with Music Week, Bennington stood by the band's pop direction, saying: "I don't care. If you like the music, fantastic. If you don't like it, that's your opinion too. Fantastic."

Chester Bennington wouldn't leave his bed on his final birthday

In an interview with Bild, Chester Bennington mentioned a very unusual change in his life which occurred on his birthday. On Bennington's 41st and final birthday, the Linkin Park rock star said he spent the day binging a Netflix series and briefly eating dinner his wife cooked him and then went back to bed to watch more. 

During the interview, Mike Shinoda was very surprised Bennington stayed in bed all day, which was very different from his normal, strict routine. Chester assured him it was true: "Dude, I was just like, 'This is what I'm doing. [...] This is exactly what I want to do. I'm just gonna sit here all day.' [...] I ate dinner and then they made me a really nice Darth Vader head cake. [...] And then I ate some ice cream [...] and then I went back to my room and I watched another two hours of kung fu movies." 

To illustrate how unlike Chester this was, Mike pointed out to Bild that, "This dude like gets up at like four in the f*ucking morning and like works out and comes to work. [...] You do so many things in a day. He doesn't sleep as much as I do." Bennington concurred, "If I sleep for six hours [...] I feel like I slept too long," to which Mike said, "To like sit in bed and not do anything in a day, that's kind of crazy that you did that."

Chester Bennington mentioned his depression in his final interviews

Chester Bennington frequently brought up his struggles with depression in interviews during the last year of his life. In May 2017, during the Bild interview, Bennington spoke of his bouts with depression: " [...] clinical depression is something that you actually can't get out of. You need to see a doctor. You have to get medicated for it. You need to go to therapy. There's like things you need to do in order to get out of it or else you won't and you're just in it. It's not like, 'Oh, man. I don't like that. I'm just bummed.' It's like, 'I don't want to do anything. And I don't feel like doing anything. And I don't like anything. There's no sunshine.'"

In an interview with 102.7 KIIS-FM in February 2017, Bennington said: "I don't know if anyone out there can relate but I have a hard time with life, sometimes. [...] No matter how I'm feeling, [...] I find myself stuck in the same thing that keeps repeating over and over again. [...] This place right here, this skull between my ears, that is a bad neighborhood, and I should not be in there alone. I can't be in there by myself. It's insane. It's crazy in here. This is a bad place for me to be by myself. And so, when I'm in that, my whole life gets thrown off. I don't say nice things to myself. There's another Chester that wants to take me down."

Linkin Park performed their last show with Chester Bennington

On July 6, 2017, Linkin Park played their last show with Bennington at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, England, writes Billboard. According to RadioX, the band played 26 songs. Thousands of fans showed up, and hundreds recorded footage of the show on their phones, not knowing it would be the singer's last performance. Bennington was truly in the zone and at peace.

During the concert, there was an intimate moment between the singer and the audience. Bennington got off the stage and walked up to the thousands of starstruck fans. While singing the song "One More Light," Bennington would hold fans' hands. Those close enough would embrace him, holding hands, while others watched with glowing eyes. Bennington was noticeably very emotional while singing the song, which was performed as a tribute to his friend, Chris Cornell. At the end of the show, Bennington was the last to leave the stage.

The last days of Chester Bennington's life

On July 20, 2017, Chester Bennington took his own life while at home. According to CNN, the singer was on vacation with his wife when he told her he was going back home to film a television commercial. Talinda described how nothing seemed wrong with her husband, saying: "We were on a family vacation, and he decided to go back home to do a television commercial. This was not a time where we or any of our family suspected this to happen, which is terrifying. ... We thought everything was OK."

According to Rolling Stone, Robert DeLeo, Bennington's bandmate in Stone Temple Pilots, mentioned he'd received some very positive text messages from Bennington a few days before his death. The singer also emailed Matt Sorum, the former drummer of Guns N' Roses, saying he'd like to perform again with their band, Kings of Chaos. Bennington's music will live on. Hopefully, people going through similar painful struggles will see that life is worth living and get as much help as possible. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).